Minority Point Of View: Revies Salaries Elsewhere Before Giving Raises Here

By the minority caucus of the Oswego County Legislature

We in the Minority Caucus have always stood for fiscal responsibility and fairness because it is unfair to increases salary structures without a complete, reasonable and comprehensive review of the entire county’s management compensation plan. This review could be accomplished in time for the final budget preparation for 2009.  Otherwise, not having such a review is not fair to our employees or our taxpayers.

We propose that the salaries of personnel in counties similar to Oswego County throughout the state be reviewed in comparison to our county salary structure. Because this task must be undertaken outside of the political realm, we propose a special committee made up of business people and community leaders to review the information and make a recommendation in a timely manner to the legislature.

The majority caucus wants to increase the county Sheriff’s salary because his assistant makes more than he does. While not denying that a raise may be necessary, we in the minority see this as an opportunity to again visit a total comprehensive management salary review.

We propose a moratorium on any salary increase in either elected or management personnel until we undertake a review of all management personnel salaries. It is only fair to our employees and the citizens of Oswego County to look at compensation based on real world numbers. Taking like-size counties and comparing like responsibilities we could easily create a both fair and equitable salary structure for all elected and management personnel.

This review need not be complex. By just simply looking at each and every position in comparison to other counties of our size we could easily benchmark our salaries in comparison. We need to place the county in a position, which fairly compensates our employees in relation to their job duties and responsibilities. This cannot be done by a piecemeal manner but only through a complete review.

Over ten years ago the county undertook what we thought was a comprehensive management compensation review.  Instead, what we got was a report that did not accurately or fairly assess the compensation of our management personnel.  Thus, the report was both flawed and incomplete because it neither truly represented actual responsibilities nor clearly identified department tasks.

To anyone who took the time to objectively read it would conclude that it was a flawed review. Of course, neither the administration nor legislature would admit it was flawed.

We needed an honest compensation assessment; instead, we got a review that ignored the critical needs of the county. What is even more troubling is this flawed report has been used for this last decade to set irresponsible compensation scales which are out of line with other counties or other businesses. Just think how much our county government has changed in the last ten years; some departments have completely reworked their responsibilities to the point of no longer being recognizable from ten years ago.

We request the Majority Caucus once again to look past politics to discover what is both fair and appropriate for our employees and taxpayers.  There is never a time to play political football with people’s salaries.  Our management personnel ensure the delivery of essential services to our constituents.  We should not treat them any less than we would treat any employee in the county.

It is often said that you get what you pay for.  In order to find and retain the best employees you must provide for their financial well-being.  If we want county government to run efficiently and well, then we should ensure we make decisions based on facts and not political muscle.